Director – Tate Taylor (The Help)
Cast – Chadwick Boseman, Dan Aykroyd, Nelsan Ellis, Viola Davis, Lennie James, Craig Robinson, Octavia Spencer
Plot – A chronicle of the life and times of James Brown (Boseman) as he reached the echelon of his industry from humble beginnings yet struggled in his personal life.
“When I hit the stage, people better be ready, especially the white folk”
Review by Eddie on 2/04/2015
While it almost ticks of very music biopic cliché in the rulebook, Tate Taylor’s anything but by the numbers look at the life and times of legendary soul daddy James Brown is a thoroughly enjoyable and often downright groovy experience that is taken to great heights thanks to the spirited direction and award calibre performance of up and coming superstar Chadwick Boseman as Brown.
Get on Up is an experience not made for everyone, it’s structure and tone ranges from dark comedy, emotionally charged dramatics and music charged interludes that have all the power and energy that Brown in person possessed in his one stage career. What is common and quite undeniable about this experience is Boseman in a turn that in a less competitive year and perhaps in an industry that isn’t suffering from music bio fatigue would’ve garnered him far more critical plaudits. While Boseman is an actor that has proved himself to an extent in tame films such as 42 his charisma and chameleon like ability he displays here as Brown is a sight to behold. Whether Boseman is dancing up a potato storm, delivering lines straight to us the viewer or wielding a shotgun in one particularly classic scene, Boseman is without question the perfect embodiment of a larger than life figure that Taylor does well to delve into.
It’s interesting to note that for a director who found fame with the at times incredibly unoriginal The Help, Get on Up is so far removed from what we’ve come to expect from such a tale. Tate Taylor infuses the tale with the fever of energy and time jumps (which can also be the films downfall at times) that will frequently remind us of Brown’s very own tortured timeframe. While we get the stereotypical tough upbringing, the myriad of parental/spousal relationships and broken friendships Get on Up deals with this various moments in a fresh and often unpredictable manner. The nature of Taylor’s direction can harm the film sometimes with various moments of intrigue seemingly passed over (such as Brown’s abusive mannerisms) but it’s not enough to derail the film as a whole.
This is Boseman’s film and a fitting look into the life of a man that will always remain one of the most incredible musical performers of all time. It’s perhaps not the quintessential look at what went on, a documentary likely to be of more use due to its more structured nature but as a biopic goes, Get on Up is one of the most fresh faced and enthusiastic of many moons and a highly entertaining film to boot. Groovy baby.
4 on the spot fines out of 5